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cperry
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This came up on the Miscellaneous thread, and I thought I'd just see if there were any folks who wanted to talk kids.

(Yeah, yeah -- I know this could really ruin the whole OA image! We'll try to keep it intellectual. [Wink] )

So, anyway, my granddaughter is almost 14 months old now and by all indicators that I have found is at the top end of physical and mental development. To top that off, she's a nice and fun kid, too. (Okay, yes, I'm a biased granny.)

But since I didn't raise my own kids from infancy, I'm all new to this baby/toddler experience. So here I am watching her develop her own personality and seeing the trend toward temper tantrums (crying when she doesn't get what she wants when she wants it). And while I know a lot of that is borne of her lack of ability to communicate clearly and control her own destiny (as if we adults actually do that!), I also want to respond appropriately so that I don't encourage this kind of response to go on for too long.

I've got books. But any real parents out there got some feedback? Or just want to talk about the amazing nature of language acquisition?

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Digger
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Kid #3 is approaching 13 months, so I've been down this road before. Every parent I know handles things differently and I don't think there's any one 'right' answer, because, as you pointed out, every kid has different areas of...um...challenge. [Wink]

We've always handled tantrums by avoiding inadvertant positive feedback to the bad behavior. If the tantrums 'work', the child will learn to throw them whenever they don't get what they want. At 14 months, it can be hard for them to communicate in a more appropriate way, so there's a fine line in judging a 'reasonable' request on the part of a toddler. And there are times when it's ok to give in to the child to head off a major meltdown. If a kid just wants a toy that's out of reach, for example, and you can catch it early, by all means, give it to him or her. It will save a lot of heartache.

But, there are times to be the hardass, too. My first kid was (and sometimes still is) the drama queen. We would do our best to ignore the bad behavior, but there were times when she would throw a tantrum in public. Even at 14 months, I have taken her out of restaraunts, put her on a bench outside, and waited out a tantrum before bringing her back in public. The general rule I always used was that the tantrum is a natural expression of frustration, so I tried not to scold or reprimand at that age, but I had to be careful not to reward the behavior. Getting her into a neutral situation where she could work it out without causing other people discomfort was the main approach. Patience was always the key. We should be mature enough to wait out a tantrum. They rarely lasted more than 2 - 3 minutes with my kids.

Now, my eldest would periodically throw a tantrum even up through age 3. Once she passed about 16 - 18 months, she understood a scolding and that started replacing simply waiting out an episode from that point forward. Personally, I've used a serious, but steady tone while getting down to her eye level to make the impression that I had something very serious and important to tell her. Then, in measured tones, and never losing control, I'd talk her down from the emotional precipice. My best trick was to pretend I couldn't understand what she was saying while she was crying and pointing out that she needed to quit crying to tell me what she wanted. She'd usually calm down enough to speak within a minute. This technique is pretty much all I've ever needed with Kid #2.

If Kid #1 got really out of control and wasn't listening long enough for the above to be successful, I'd go into what the wife calls "drill sergeant mode". Again, never losing control, but raising the voice to get her attention, I'd start giving her very specific instructions. Getting her focused on something other than the tantrum, even if it's as simple as 'stand up', 'come over here', 'look at me', 'now listen to me', would help her come out of the irrationality of the tantrum and start communicating. Once they're listening, I've found they are much easier to deal with. The trick is to break their freak out and get them rational for just a few seconds.

Oh, and a tantrum definitely earns a timeout once they hit the age of 2+.

I doubt I've ever used 'drill sergeant mode' more than a couple of times a week, just as an example of frequency. The other stuff happens on a pretty routine basis - once a day or so.

Good luck. [Smile]

[ February 18, 2006, 11:25 PM: Message edited by: Digger ]

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Funean
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Wow, Digger. You ARE good at this. I don't have anything add, except to remember that the toddler's grief and rage is quite real, if seemingly excessive for the situation.

With my kids it was okay to comfort them in their moment of extremity, as long as it wasn't coupled with acquiescing to whatever caused the tantrum. There came a point with both of them, though, where they realized tantrum=attention, and that was the end of that. But basically what you're doing is helping them--one way or another--to adjust to the horrifying reality that the world is uncooperative. It's a hard lesson. [Smile]

Yes, do lets talk about language acquisition. My son refused to talk till he was three, and then just began conversing, so we missed all the inbetween stuff. It's been great fun watching my daughter (2 1/2 now) progress from babbling to words to sentences to, lately, puns and really devious manipulation. What are yours up to?

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Digger
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Thanks Funean. I don't know if I'm especially good at it, but I can't recall ever being asked to take my kid out of a public place because of a tantrum. I'll take that as a small victory.

One last thought: Consistency (!!!)

These tactics don't work if applied intermittently. In fact, they can exacerbate the problem if the kid can't figure out what the 'rules' are. If there's anything a kid hates, it's uncertainty. If my kids behave better than average it's due to the fact that the wife and I have the same game plan when we deal with the chilluns.

We joke that it's like training a dog. And it really is.

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cperry
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Thanks, Digger. You have confirmed a lot of what I thought and much of what I've been trying to do. Consistency is going to be a bit of a bear: There's her mom, who lives with us right now but who's also 19 and who was raised until age 6 with a neglectful parent and then until age 13 in an orphanage. There's her dad, who's 20, and who is an immigrant from Mexico who lives in a condo with 12 other people from Mexico, not all relatives, so any time spent there (which I try to limit, as tactfully as I can), is bound to be less structured than it is here. At least hubby & I can be consistent, so she'll always know what she's going to get from the grandparents.
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cperry
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Hi Funean. This language acquisition business is endlessly fascinating to me, as I tend to believe that our language shapes our thoughts, at least to some extent. (Approx quote: "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." -Wittgenstein)

Anyway, GD (granddaughter) hears Russian from her mom, Mexican-Spanish from her father and all of his family, and English from us. I was ready for her to be language delayed, but I don't think she is. She has what seems to me to be an enormous vocabulary at this time, although I suspect I may be a bit generous in elevating some of her utterances to the status of vocabulary. But even her imitation sentences tickle us to no end -- they're just so darn cute! Thank goodness for video cameras. I am really looking forward to watching them with her later just to see her reaction to herself (she probably won't be nearly as impressed).

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cperry
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So far, the only tantrums she's thrown (very minor, by the way -- wonder if this is behavior she's learned at daycare?) have been when I was unable to pick her up when she asked, "Up." In one instance, I was able to sit down with her (she was face down, crying, doing a little bit of kicking -- which led me to the daycare imitation theory), and she sat up on her own to watch me sitting next to her. In another, I handed her something to play with, and that pretty much worked.

In all cases, I talk to her about why I can't do what she wants, even though she can't really understand all I'm saying. Like you suggest, Digger, in a steady, serious tone -- sympathetic but not babying or giving in.

I imagine it'll all get worse, eventually, before it gets better. [Smile]

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LetterRip
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Digger,

quote:
One last thought: Consistency (!!!)
Definitely - otherwise it can easily end up being random reinforcement which is more difficult to overcome.

cperry,

quote:
she was face down, crying, doing a little bit of kicking -- which led me to the daycare imitation theory
I think kids come by that naturally so while it could be day care learned, it could be spontaneous.

LetterRip

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cperry
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quote:
I think kids come by that naturally so while it could be day care learned, it could be spontaneous.

LetterRip [/QB]

Really? I suppose that makes sense -- how did the first kids with no daycare learn it?

Reminds me of a very bad day in college when I ran to my dorm room and tried to throw myself on the bed in despair.

Hard to pull off convincingly with a pile of hangers on the pillow. It just added to my despair! [Big Grin]

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cperry
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GD's language acquisition: Right now, most of GD's words are either nouns (mama, dada, dog, bottle, etc.) or requests/commands (up, more, etc.). She is saying, "one, two, three," but she doesn't know what they mean yet (she's an amazing mimic -- not sure if she's an unusual mimic or if this is normal, but it sure is alarming! One day I pointed to the pantry and said, "NO!" very sternly to get our dogs to stop begging for more treats. She walked over to the pantry, stabbed her finger at the door, and said, "NO!" with just as much authority!).

She also says "peuw" (sp?) for a dirty diaper and "e-i-e-i-o" randomly -- she hasn't yet figured out to insert it when I'm singing; it will tickle me endlessly when she finally does get it. She also says, "Woof woof," when I ask, "What does a doggy say?"

No other animals around to arouse similar responses to "What does a cow say?" or "What does a duck say?" despite endless verses of "Old MacDonald."

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Funean
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What you have to look forward to:

Today, after the bath and apropos of absolutely nothing, my 2 1/2 year old daughter announced that she was a god. In her other life.

Fortunately, she was a "nice" god, so there should be no leftover smiting for us, here in her new life.

The imperiousness now makes much more sense.

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cperry
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I rather like the idea of reincarnation. It could explain so much!
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LetterRip
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cperry,

mimicing is actually is extremely common so no she probably isn't exceptional in that aspect. (They mimic tone, sounds, actions, body language, facial expressions - the development of children is truly fascinating...) How did you get through life without being around little children for significant periods of time [Smile]

Funean,

heheh - too much tv?

LetterRip

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canadian
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I've found that ether works great on Tantrums.

I never remember a thing....

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cperry
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Canadian -- LOL.

LR - Yeah, I guessed as much. If we couldn't mimic, how would we have learned so many subtle things so easily?

Oddly, I taught middle school and high school, adopted two teens, so I never had much exposure (certainly none that I paid much attention to!) to little ones.

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LoverOfJoy
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I've read some fascinating research on language acquisition among babies. Babies can hear and notice a lot of differences in tone and over time they lose a lot if they don't hear it from people. There is a definite sensitive period where that part of the brain seems to develop a lot. I can't remember what the range is, though. I'm not even sure I can remember where the studies are...my graduate program is frying my brain.

Studies on stepfamilies I've seen seem to suggest that even if there are differences in upbringing, kids can be really good at learning the "rules" at the different places. So even if your GD has very inconsistent discipline at her dad's she could still do very well at learning that it's different at your house. She will likely test you from time to time to see if something that worked at dad's will work at your place and she may take a bit longer overall but your consistency should have definite payoffs regardless of how her dad treats her. I'd be a bit more worried about the mom. You don't want her learning to play the two of you off each other. That's great that your hubby is on board and on the same page as you. That should help a lot.

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cperry
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Hi LoJ,

Your first point is very popular among those who advocate teaching youngsters multiple languages. Even if they don't learn the language until later, they're must less likely to have an accent -- because they heard the language back when the brain was primed to notice those kinds of details. Similar thing for faces -- infants notice details that as adults we just assimilate into the big picture. THey lose that over time.

Re stepfamilies -- yes, I've heard that as well. It gives me hope! 8)

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Godot
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Digger,

You are soooooooo much better at this fatherhood thing than I am.

I have two boys: 1+ and 3+.

The youngest is virtually always well-behaved and needs little scolding except when he is trying something dangerous.

My oldest is a wonderful boy and I love him to pieces, but he has been a real handful (esp. for my wife who has him all day) for the last 6 months or so. Tantrums, talking-back, not doing time-outs, etc.

My wife and I are regularly (though not frequently) in situations where we end up yelling at him instead of parenting him. Once I start using my "stern" voice, I sometimes start excalating the seriousness of the situation and have a hard time reining in my temper. My temper is short-lived, but it really gets in the way.

When we decided to have children, I knew that my lack of patience would be my biggest hurdle. We recently decided to implement a no-yelling rule unless it was being used to get a child's attention and stop a potentially dangerous behavior when they are out of reach. The rule is more for us to use in "policing" each other and gives us a hard and fast boundary for our own behavior.

Anyway, Digger, I very much appreciated learning some of your methods and attitudes. I will be discussing them with my wife and hopefully we can integrate some of your wisdom into our own parenting.

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Serotonin'sGone
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For the child experts on this thread:

My brother has a 20 month year old son. He's an abhorrent little devil (he's gonna love me when he gets older. "Hi. I called you a grub for the first 9 months of your life, and devil child after that.")

Anyway, my brother and his wife have these disciplinary tactics that simply blow my mind, so I wanted to know if this sort of thing is typical. Basically they don't believe in disciplining him for any reason -- instead they "distract." So if the demon child breaks a christmas ornament, they turn him around and push him in a different direction (with the presumption he'll amuse himself with something else over there). If he tosses a wine glass (god knows why he was within reach of one, but this did happen) across the room, suddenly he's allowed to go outside and play with the dogs.

Is it me or is this the dumbest parenting strategy on the planet? From what I understand it's supposed to be neutral -- no reward or punishment, but it sure looks a lot like reward. When asked why they don't punish, they claim "he wouldn't understand." There's almost no one in my family with an IQ under 130, so I find it difficult to believe my brother's kid is really that much dumber than my cat (but maybe he's really that special). Mind you when I say punish I just mean a time out or something (curiously, they will give him a time out for turning on the tv, because that rule has been "defined").

Oh, and he throws hour long tantrums. I keep thinking that his own vileness will eventually make his mother so tired she'll be forced to discipline him, but so far, nothing. It all just baffles me. This kid managed to hit a High C for 20 minutes during a family reunion dinner (no, please don't move your child, I think we'd all be more comfortable if we just sat here and bled from our ears). Thankfully his voice has since descended a bit into more of a yell than a shriek, but still. Is this normal?

[ February 21, 2006, 02:17 PM: Message edited by: Serotonin'sGone ]

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Godot
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I am cetainly NOT a child expert, read my previous post if you want proof (OUCH! Was that self-deprecating or just rude? Shut up and stop writing to yourself.)

I've only seen distraction recommended as the SOLE method of behavior modification when the child is too young to understand what is expected of them.

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Funean
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quote:
Is this normal?
Who knows, but it's definitely not optimal.

I'm still at work, and I'll reply in greater detail when I get home if someone else hasn't covered it by then, but the short version is:

"Punishment" is wasted on most kids under 3, unless your goal is just trauma (scolding to attach a little trauma to something REALLY dangerous, for example, might be desirable). Developmentally, the ability to make the connection between the two events just isn't there yet (nothing to do with smarts).

The usual method is to redirect the kid to something they're *allowed* to do, whilst telling them "NO, please don't feel mommy's new pumps to the dog. How about we do THIS instead...". However, all kids are different, and my little demon certainly started misbehaving on purpose (I mean *in order to annoy me*, complete with making sure she's got eye contact with me before doing the naughty thing) at around 2, so she started getting brief timeouts (after warnings) then. Such was all totally wasted on my son (Best Kid Ever) until he was about 4.

Screaming and other awfulness should never be allowed to continue unimpeded. He should have been taken to another room until he/the parent were able to get the situation under control. I completely agree with everything Digger said about tantrums.

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Digger
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quote:
You are soooooooo much better at this fatherhood thing than I am.

I have two boys: 1+ and 3+.

I doubt that. [Smile]

I think I have a temporary built-in advantage in the childhood behavior department. All my kids are of the female persuasion and from bitter experience with friends and relatives, I've come to believe that I've got it easy here in the early years, comparatively speaking. Boys can be quite the challenge to any level of authority. I make no guarantees that anything I've discussed will work for you.

I've also come to believe that when all my kids hit puberty and synch up their menstrual cycles with my wife, I'll do best to leave town one week every month.

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javelin
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Feel free to come on up here to Portland, Digger. I've got a couch for ya, anytime. (plus a few beers, any type ya like) [Smile]
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Digger
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quote:
Is it me or is this the dumbest parenting strategy on the planet?
You're not going to believe me, but I've seen dumber.

We have one set of friends that apply roughly the same 'distraction' principles with their kid (a nearly 3-year old boy). Result: He's a holy terror. It's gotten to the point where we have to make excuses not to go out to dinner with them.

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Funean
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quote:
I've come to believe that I've got it easy here in the early years, comparatively speaking.
Au contraire, mon frer...my boy is an absolute angel, nicest kid ever, completely reasonable. My daughter began life a week late, took 39 hours of labor to emerge, and has been a total tyrant ever since. No lie, her first non-"mommy" word was "naughty."

Of course, this could just be the "second child rule." It has been my observation that, by and large, first children tend to be easy, second children tend to be demon spawn. I can think of no exceptions among my acquaintances with children. It is notable that these are all 2-child families. [Smile]

One other thought on the "redirect" method of behavior modification in the first couple of years...I've noticed that lots of parents confuse "redirection" with "inaction." The idea is to correct the child and help them make to make a more appropriate choice, AND ensure that they do abandon the poor choice, not to haplessly suggest other ideas. Wimpily moaning "No, darling, don't poke the doggy with your fork..no, darling...please, sweetheart.." isn't the method, at all, and will result in either an eyeless dog or an eaten toddler. Rather, state firmly "No, <name>, we don't poke doggies with our forks. Why don't you see how many peas you can get on the end of your fork?" while turning the child away from the dog and "helping" him to stab some peas. It's important to say "no," and to *physically* divert the child from whatever he was up to, along with providing an unavoidable (ideally attractive) alternative.

Note that this method is for very young toddlers, who have limited language skills and absolutely no yardstick for distinguishing good ideas from bad. Older kids can be expected to understand and obey simple rules, and can be held accountable when they choose to do otherwise. Observant parents usually get pretty good at telling when their kids are deliberately misbehaving versus being, well, kids.

Hour long tantrums, by the way, are truly excessive. Tantrums (real ones, where the kid is out of control hysterical, hiccupping and hoarse) are pretty traumatic and scary for child himself, and once underway are very hard for the child to arrest by himself. Parents need to help toddlers learn how to manageably express their emotions, not just stand by till they're quiet by way of profound exhaustion. Again, there's a difference between supportive parenting that recognizes kids' developmental capacities and plain old passivity.

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cperry
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Even as a novice, I know better than to pretend that redirecting and ignoring are the same things. GD has known what a "no-touch" is since she was about 9.5 months (about when she started walking, maybe slightly before that). They do understand a lot of the basic things we say. It is rather nice to be able to physically remove kids from situations (although I try not to overdo it, as I can imagine it leads to some legitmate frustrations!), but it's also very easy to remove or ask for off-limits objects and replace them with a short explanation ("The pen's a no-touch, sweetie. Here's a book you can read.")
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Funean
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She started walking at 9 1/2 months?

You poor people.

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LetterRip
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on the language thing - kids can communicate before they long before they can speak - Meet the Fockers was legit. I was helping my sister out watching some kids for her while she took a nap - and one of the kids she watches did that. He made the sign to me (hungry), but I was oblivious since I didn't know that he had been taught that - so he brought the book over to me then did the sign again [Smile]

LetterRip

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Ben
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Definitely can assest to the preverbal communications, my kid's been using signs since about 7 months old, though limited to a few (milk, mom, etc) until about 14 months when she started picking up on other signs as well as spoken words. Same with several other members of my extended family. The signs aren't as well articulated as you might have seen on Fockers, since most babies don't have that fine motor control yet for signing until 2-3 years of age. But the general gestures and movements will be consistent and match closely to the proper signs themselves. Plus the usual baby babbling gestures comparable to verbal babbling occurs too if sign language is used consistently around the kid, as it is in my family.

Now at 21 months, she's picking up words at a good pace. Oh, and she understands timeouts (only a minute or so). Smart girl, I'm such a proud father! [Smile]

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cperry
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She is an exceptionally good baby, so the walking hasn't been nearly the trial we anticipated it would be. (I say that at work while my daughter is home with the GD and recognize the questionable value of my comment!)

As I mentioned earlier, she's a very alert mimic, so she has picked up signs for "more," "milk," "keys," "dog," "bear," and a couple others I can't think of right now. She's got me thinking I need a better sign book to keep up with her.

Sometimes I won't hand her something until she says the word or signs for it, even though she has given plenty of other signs that she wants it. Then I worry I'm just being too demanding with a 14 mo. old. Argh! And I'm just a grandma!

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cperry
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Also, she has "lost" a few words. "Apple" comes to mind. I remember the first day she said it, and she said it incredibly clearly and correctly. She used it for about a week, but now she won't use it at all. Is that normal?
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Serotonin'sGone
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quote:
Hour long tantrums, by the way, are truly excessive. Tantrums (real ones, where the kid is out of control hysterical, hiccupping and hoarse) are pretty traumatic and scary for child himself, and once underway are very hard for the child to arrest by himself. Parents need to help toddlers learn how to manageably express their emotions, not just stand by till they're quiet by way of profound exhaustion.
Then I have definitely misdiagnosed his behavior -- he's very far from a tantrum. His outbursts are very controlled -- he knows that if he screams like a banshee everyone will look at him -- and mommy will give him anything his degenerate heart desires. So he does it ALL THE BLOODY TIME. Why wouldn't he?

quote:
"Punishment" is wasted on most kids under 3, unless your goal is just trauma (scolding to attach a little trauma to something REALLY dangerous, for example, might be desirable). Developmentally, the ability to make the connection between the two events just isn't there yet (nothing to do with smarts).
I guess I find this very difficult to believe. My nephew seemed fully cognizant of what his actions entail -- when he chucked the wine glass he let out a yelp of pure glee and milked the attention it bought him. He knew that someone was gonna have to clean it up -- and it wasn't going to be him (he's equally frustrating with food -- food in the hand is quickly food flung). He always gets a mischievous or otherwise suspicious look when he breaks things.

Are there studies which indicate that children under 3 don't understand right and wrong?

I guess I find the whole topic fascinating in a very detached sense. when confronted with my brother and his child I immediately thought that I knew precisely how a child should be raised, and that they were doing it wrong. And I think this behavior is very common, everyone -- most particularly those without children who really don't know anything -- thinks that they know the best way to raise a kid.

And on top of that there's the growing body of nothing you do as a parent matters research...

primary spokesperson of said movement:

interview with judith harris on edge

judith harris homepage

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cperry
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quote:
Originally posted by Serotonin'sGone:
[QB] I guess I find the whole topic fascinating in a very detached sense. when confronted with my brother and his child I immediately thought that I knew precisely how a child should be raised, and that they were doing it wrong. And I think this behavior is very common, everyone -- most particularly those without children who really don't know anything -- thinks that they know the best way to raise a kid.

Amen. Having been there, done that. I used to watch my best friend, who had adopted 2 teens from Eastern Europe, and wonder what they were complaining about. Their kids were just wonderful around us. Then I got two teens from Eastern Europe myself, and now I know!

However, there is something to be said for the detached observer's point of view. It is easy for a parent to be so immersed in all the details of the big picture to miss something critical, something that another person might see more clearly.

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Funean
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Oh, I definitely knew much more about rearing kids before I had any. [Big Grin] I recently sheepishly confessed to my own parents that I felt like I was making most of this up as I went along, and to my horror, they readily confessed that they'd always felt that way, and still did. Highly disquieting.

Cperry, my son said "cracker" at 7 months (he wanted one) and not another word till he was three. I think it's pretty normal to "try" words out and then abandon them. As long as there is an overall accrual of vocabulary, I doubt there's anything to worry about.

quote:
Are there studies which indicate that children under 3 don't understand right and wrong?
Gosh, I dunno. Probably. I know that most child experts don't recommend punishment (per se) for young toddlers, and I'm sure I've seen their reasons defended/attributed (being suspicious of everything, I tend to be sensitive to opinion being stated as fact) but I don't recall specifics. If you're really interested, I'll look into it (though what you *really* need is ammo to argue to your brother and his wife that they can help their son to modify his behavior without "punishment".)

It's kind of commonsense, though; very young children are pretty reactionary, instinctual, and sense-based. Does this feel good? Is it cool to look at? Do I get to be even more of the center of attention if I do this? Like that. Amoral little beasts, all of them, and nearly impenetrably so in the first 2 years or so.

The problem with punishment as an efficacious method of behavior modification is that the child is unlikely to make the connection between the two events. Ordinary standards of "naughty" and "purposeful" don't apply to wee ones very well. Your nephew probably didn't knock over the wine glass to make anyone angry, or to be destructive, but to get a reaction and to see what would happen (gravity in action...hey, it works EVERY TIME!!).

What worked with my kids was accompanying the usual "NO!" with minimal reaction and fuss, thus failing to reward the behavior. Eventually, it became pretty boring to them because all they got was yet another "No" to add to their collections, as well as a frowny mommy.

quote:
...he knows that if he screams like a banshee everyone will look at him -- and mommy will give him anything his degenerate heart desires. So he does it ALL THE BLOODY TIME. Why wouldn't he?
You're exactly right. They need to stop rewarding negative behavior. Like dogs (sorry, it's true), kids respond primarily to positive impetus. Reward is a far more efficient motivator than punishment is a deterrent. And the thing little kids respond most to is parental attention and approval (happy mommy face).

A screaming child, provided there's nothing actually wrong, needs to be removed posthaste and taken to a quiet, boring place, and made to understand that he will not be able to rejoin the party until he is able to stop screaming. Under no circumstances should whatever request preceded the screaming be granted until the screaming stops. Rinse and repeat as necessary. They figure it out surprisingly quickly.

As for Judith Harris, while I was totally shocked to discover that my kids essentially emerged from the womb with full personalities factory-loaded, the notion that what parents do doesn't matter is, respectfully, crap. Maybe minor differences in parenting strategies flatten out over enormous samples, and maybe peers do make a bigger difference for a short period, but please. Tell an abused child his parents didn't make a difference in his outcomes. And what does she use as her control groups? But that having been said, I have been pleasantly surprised and much relieved to note that much of parenting is about merely helping your kids to stay on the rails, not about building whole people from scratch, as I'd feared.

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Athelstan
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This is me talking kids. My Grandchildren are wonderful. I wish I'd had them first. An old joke but, in my opinion, a true one. I get great delight seeing my Daughter chastising my Granddaughter knowing I did the same to my Daughter for the same reason when she was young. My Daughter has already told me not to tell her Daughter what she got up to when she was young. My Grandson is eighteen months and both of my Grandkids have spent the last week with me. The boy has no need of language although he chatters away like a demented teletubby. If he wants something he points and grunts. He understands some of what we say to him but is quite content to carry on as he does. I am content to let him as I don't see instruction as part of my job. I'm just there for the nice things. I'm the good cop to my daughter's bad cop.
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cperry
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quote:
Originally posted by Funean:
As for Judith Harris, while I was totally shocked to discover that my kids essentially emerged from the womb with full personalities factory-loaded, the notion that what parents do doesn't matter is, respectfully, crap. Maybe minor differences in parenting strategies flatten out over enormous samples, and maybe peers do make a bigger difference for a short period, but please. Tell an abused child his parents didn't make a difference in his outcomes. And what does she use as her control groups? But that having been said, I have been pleasantly surprised and much relieved to note that much of parenting is about merely helping your kids to stay on the rails, not about building whole people from scratch, as I'd feared. [/QB]

Amen. Funny how "fully formed" then can seem at such an early age. Easy to see stubbornness or other traits. While I haven't read the Judith Harris stuff, and while I do hate the whole "I'm in therapy because of what my parents did to me" business, parents do play a significant role in the development of their children. We can see this clearly in the vocabulary gap that some children bring to school -- despite equal native intelligence levels.

It's funny how we're so desparate to lay everything on one thing or another: It's nature! No, it's nurture! Why can't it be a very complicated interplay of the two, dependent upon the parents, the kids, and all the other variables that life brings? Sure, it's messy, but so is life! [Smile]

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roper66
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For SG:

quote:
Are there studies which indicate that children under 3 don't understand right and wrong?
Early childhood theorists from both the constructivist and behaviorist camps agree that children do not develop the capacity for moral understanding (right/wrong) unitl about age 8 - 9. There is a lot of research that supports those theories.

Jean Piaget's theories of child development, in particular, have been the biggest influence on early childhood education in the US. Moral development was one of the foundations of his theories.

That does not mean children should not have limits placed on their behavior. On the contrary, adults must provide behavioral boundaries for children in order for them to develop the capacity for moral judgement. For example, a young child may not understand that hitting other kids is "wrong." However, if they are removed from the playgroup each time they hit, and the consequence is immediate and consistent, they do have the capacity to associate the consequence with the action and will change the behavior, sometimes quite rapidly. The same holds true for reinforcing desirable behavior with immediate and consistent rewards. This builds the foundation for what will become in older children the ability to act and make decisions based on moral and ethical considerations.

Not that I'm an expert here. I'm taking graduate courses in early childhood education and we've discussed this particular issue ad nauseam in one of my classes.

I also have four kids, ages infant to 16, and I've learned a lot from my own failures [Smile]

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Serotonin'sGone
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quote:
It's funny how we're so desparate to lay everything on one thing or another: It's nature! No, it's nurture! Why can't it be a very complicated interplay of the two, dependent upon the parents, the kids, and all the other variables that life brings? Sure, it's messy, but so is life!
Actually, Harris's claim is not that it's entirely nature and has nothing to do with parents -- she just claims that it is peers that define 95% of the nurture aspect of personal devolopement. She has some interesting figures -- basically in separated twins studies it doesn't appear to matter how the child was raised -- they always turn out about the same.

Also, the other interesting finding that I've seen proposed (in freakanomics, to be precise) is that it doesn't really matter what a parent does, but it matters immensely who they are. I.e. -- reading to your child doesn't matter one bit, but having a lot of books in the home correlates with success. Taking your child to the library or museum does nothing, but just being well educated does. That kind of thing.

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cperry
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quote:
Also, the other interesting finding that I've seen proposed (in freakanomics, to be precise) is that it doesn't really matter what a parent does, but it matters immensely who they are. I.e. -- reading to your child doesn't matter one bit, but having a lot of books in the home correlates with success. Taking your child to the library or museum does nothing, but just being well educated does. That kind of thing. [/QB]
Ya think there might be some kind of genetic relationship? [Wink]
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Funean
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The trouble with all of these nature/nuture debates is that there's no way to set up good controls to conclusively demonstrate the weights of either class of influence. Even twin studies only demonstrate, at best, that genetics affect things commonly thought of as being entirely environmental or individually chosen (like hobbies and the like). But you can't ever completely separate environmental influences out. For example, chances are that no matter how different their upbringings are in many regards, both twins are still going to be subject to the social/cultural ramifications of their race, both twins are likely to have been adopted by solidly middle class families, and both twins are going to have grown up surrounded by relatively consistent responses to the attributes caused by their genetically based traits (appearance, shyness, creativity, methodicalness, etc.), provided they were reared in similar cultures.

There's also a problem with separating causation from correlation, especially when looking at statistical overviews. And has anyone ever found a home with a lot of books where the parents *didn't* read to their children?

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